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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS

France Votes After Champs-Elysees Shooting; Britain's Prime Minister Offers Up an April Surprise; Will Merkel Be Able To Beat Back the Competition?; Trump Support: An Asset in World Elections?; Authoritarian Powers Gaining the Upper Hand Across the Globe; Discussion of Poisoning of Russian Spy; Keeping Track of Government Spending. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 23, 2017 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

Today on the show, France goes to the polls to elect its next President. The British Prime Minister calls for a new election to smooth the path to Brexit. And the Turks voted last weekend to give their president extraordinary powers. What to make of all these votes? I have a great panel to discuss.

Also, liberal democracy is in decline around the world. Tyranny of the majority is on the rise. What is behind this growing wave of illiberal democracy?

Then, reporting on Russia, digging deep into Kremlin's spying and Moscow secrets. That's what reporter Luke Harding did until he was thrown out. His inside story on what is really going on behind those walls.

And former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is worth billions. He's spending a few million to examine how the government spends its trillions. What happens when you put American government under a microscope and examine it like a business.

But first, here's my take. Every American administration takes a while to settle into a basic approach to the world. President Trump's team has had a rockier start than most with many important positions in every key agency still unfilled.

More worrying, though, the administration's basic foreign policy is coming into view. And it is not a reassuring sight. Bellicose rhetoric, hollow threats, contradictory voices and little coordination with allies.

The approach is being tested on the most difficult foreign policy problem of all, North Korea. There is a pattern to Trump's approach so far. It begins with bravado, the repeated use of rhetoric that is not backed up by much. The president constantly insists that if China doesn't help deal with North Korea, America will. Really? How? A military strike is close to impossible. South Korea would vehemently oppose any such move since it would face the brunt of North Korea's retaliation.

Remember, Seoul is only 35 miles from the border. Japan would also oppose a strike and, of course, any military action would enrage China.

Plus, a bombing campaign would be ineffective since North Korea's nuclear sites are scattered, buried deep and, in some cases, under water.

Between the administration's bluster, its mistake with the USS Carl Vinson and Trump's repetition of Beijing's line that Korea was once part of China, South Korea has been made deeply uneasy by the Trump administration.

Tough talk is supplemented by aggressive military reflexes, whether that means using bigger bombs in the Middle East or sending ships eventually into East Asian waters, these tactics can be useful if there is a strategy behind them.

So far, however, they look more like tactics in search of a strategy. The flexing of military might in the hope that this will impress the adversary. But all the shock and awe in Iraq did not help when there was a faulty plan to secure the peace.

More bombs in Syria will not answer the question of how to defeat ISIS, without abetting President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States has had roughly the same strategy toward North Korea for decades. It is a policy of sanctions, threats, intimidation, pressure and isolation. And it has not worked.

Even the brief effort at cooperation during the Clinton years was halfhearted, with Washington never fulfilling all of its promises to North Korea. In any event, it was quickly reversed by the George W. Bush administration.

The results, though, have been clear. North Korea has continued to build its nuclear program and engage in provocative tests. As isolation and sanctions have increased in recent years, Pyongyang has only become more confrontational.

In a recent essay in Foreign Affairs, John Delury wonders if it's time to try another approach. If the United States really hopes to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula, he writes, it should stop looking for ways to stifle North Korea's economy and undermine Kim Jong-un's regime and start finding ways to make Pyongyang feel more secure.

We tend to view North Korea as an utterly weird country run by a loony dictator with bad hair. And there is evidence to support all these characterizations. But it is also a regime that wants to survive and has. [10:05:06] I recall many similar arguments made about Iran before the nuclear deal that it was a fanatical country, run by mad mullahs. We were told they could never be negotiated with, would never accept a deal, would never disconnect their centrifuges, and would violate any agreement within weeks.

So far, all these predictions have proved wrong. It might be worth trying a new policy with North Korea. It might not work, but the old one certainly hasn't.

For more, go to CNN.com/Fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

The attack in France further escalated the already high tensions over this weekend's French presidential election. When the votes are counted, the current field of almost a dozen candidates will be narrowed down to two, who will compete for the votes of their fellow French men and women in an early May run off.

We'll get to the upcoming vote across the channel in Britain as well. And last weekend's vote in Turkey too. What it all means? Let's bring in the panel.

Bernard-Henri Levy is a French public intellectual and philosopher. He joins us from Paris. Zanny Minton Beddoes is the first female editor-in-chief of "The Economist." She joins us from London. And Jochen Bittner is the political editor of the German newspaper "Die Zeit". He joins us from Hamburg.

Bernard, let me begin with you, with the obvious question. What are we to make of the French election? And will this terror attack improve the chances of Marine Le Pen and dampen the hopes that Emanuel Macron, the centrist candidate, was surging forward?

BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, PHILOSOPHER, AUTHOR AND ACTIVIST: It's very difficult, of course, to speculate and to make a bet. But if you ask me, I would say no. I don't think that this terrorist attack will give so many votes to Mrs. Le Pen.

I continue to believe that she will be beaten in this election for many reasons. First of all, she was obscene in her way to exploit the terrorist attack and the death of this brave policeman. She was obscene.

Number two, there is the French people. Because of the last two years, sort of terrible and tragic, but real - I would not say habit, but they know that this can happen and that simple solution will certainly not be the way to get rid of terrorism.

People know that it is so absurd. Nobody has a simplistic tool to prevent terrorism or to eradicate Islamism, Islamist creeds in this country. So, I don't think it will improve - it will improve her voters, but not as much as she could think.

ZAKARIA: Jochen Bittner, how do you see this in the German context? Because what I'm struck by is Germany has a million refugees that it has taken in. So far, there has not been much in the way of a terrorist incident.

But were there to be one, do you still worry that there could be the rise of a very powerful new right movement? There is this small party, the AFD, but it's been doing worse and worse in recent months.

JOCHEN BITTNER, POLITICAL EDITOR, "DIE ZEIT": Yes. Well, we had a terrorist attack in Germany shortly before Christmas in Berlin when a truck hit a Christmas market and left 12 people dead. Well, the impact on the political stage was basically limited to the elections, you would expect.

We had a thorough investigation on the causes of this attack, who was to blame, why was the perpetrator not discovered before he was able to commit the attack. But, of course, the AFD, the populist right wing party tries to capitalize on these events, but I have to say without much success yet.

So, maybe the Germans are not really - they haven't been impacted as the French.

ZAKARIA: Zanny, does this - is it possible that we are witnessing peak populism, by which I mean the populist trend we've all seen and worried about, from Brexit to Trump, it maybe this is the peak and it's going to decline.

ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE ECONOMIST": Maybe. Maybe. I wouldn't start saying anything about that until after the second round of the French election.

But even then, I think the striking thing, if you look at the French election, is that on both left and right, there are anti-establishment candidates, and that if you look at the four people who are the most likely - two of whom are most likely to make it to the second round, they are essentially - many of them, they are a vote against the establishment.

[10:10:08] There is someone who didn't have a party. There is an extreme communist. There is the extreme right. These are all in different ways the French people basically grasping for something different. There's a generalized anger in France about the status quo. And I'm not sure that is so easily dissipated.

ZAKARIA: Bernard, what do you make of that, the rise of these - all these anti-establishment candidates and a real socialist?

LEVY: What is true is that, to be endorsed today in French politics and in this electoral race, the good brand is to be anti-system. This is sad because the system is not so bad. The system means democracy. The system means institution.

But the fact is that in order to run, you have in a way or another to pretend to be anti-system. Fillon pretends to be anti-system. Macron, all of them.

What I would say nevertheless is that - again, I believe that - I saw the great article in "The Economist" recently saying that the nightmare scenario would be Melenchon versus Le Pen. "The Economist" wrote that and they're right.

This would be the worst because they are sort of twins. The extreme leftist Melenchon, extreme rightist Le Pen, they are fake twins, but twins.

My speculation, my belief is that it will not be that at the end of the day. My belief is that, at the last minute, France will recover its nerves, first of all today, this Sunday, and within two weeks.

And we have a candidate, Mr. Macron. He is in a way anti-system, but he belongs to the system. He is young. He has energy. He is a sort of French Kennedy-like candidate. And this, I believe, definitely can work.

ZAKARIA: Hold on. When we come back, we will ask what to make of Prime Minister May's calls for a new election in Britain. Is it a sign of strength or weakness? What does it mean for Europe? When we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:16:14] ZAKARIA: And we are back with our pan-European panel. Bernard-Henri Levy in Paris, Zanny Minton Beddoes in London and Jochen Bittner in Hamburg.

Zanny, what to make of the Theresa May decision? It's the first time, I think, in decades that the prime minister has called such an early election. What's behind it?

BEDDOES: Well, it was a complete surprise because she had said loudly and clearly that she wasn't going to do it. And we now have a fixed term Parliament bill here. So, technically, there wasn't supposed to be one until 2020. But, clearly, the decision to do it, I think, is because she has realized this is an extraordinarily good time for her to cement and increase dramatically her majority.

She currently has a very small majority, which means that she is beholden to her party, and particularly to the extreme Brexiteers in her party. And I think the calculus now is she goes to the country, the opposition Labour Party is in utter disarray with a terrible leader, she will - they are assuming to get a far bigger majority, which means that she then has not only a mandate for conducting the negotiations for Brexit in the way that she wants, she has a mandate for all of the other things she wants to do.

So, I think - and the economy is still looking pretty good. So, any of the pain that people expected from Brexit hasn't happened yet. She's never going to have a better moment to get a bigger majority than she has now.

ZAKARIA: And part of it, as you say, Zany, is the collapse of the left in Britain, which has broadly happened across Europe except in Germany. Jochen Bittner, it does seem as though the social Democrat candidate could give Angela Merkel a run for her money? Why?

BITTNER: It came as a big surprise to many of us that Martin Schulz, who was announced as a candidate for the social democrats just a couple of weeks ago, ranked so high in the polls all of a sudden. There was a surge for the social democrats. They lingered around 20% before Mr. Schulz was announced. And then they made it to 30 percent or 35 percent. Sometimes, in some polls, even topping Mrs. Merkel.

And that's miraculous because Mr. Schulz could actually be identified with the Brussels establishment, the very thing people despise and the very thing populists capitalize on.

ZAKARIA: That's fascinating because at least on the surface it does seem he's more pro-European than Merkel, he's more left wing than Merkel, he's in favor of more social welfare. So, a fascinating situation.

Bernard, what about one particular endorsement, I was wondering. Donald Trump has sort of endorsed Marine Le Pen. He seems to suggest that he likes her from time to time. And he just said that he thought the terror attacks would have a big impact, implying again that they would help Marine Le Pen.

Does it help, in the European context and in the French context, to have Donald Trump on your side or does it hurt?

LEVY: I think that it hurts. There are two things which did hurt Marine Le Pen, which is the endorsement by Vladimir Putin and the endorsement by Donald Trump. France is not completely lost. As Germany, we are not lost. Germany and France. And not lost in the illiberate translation.

And there is still the feeling today that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin embody the worst solution for Europe, about NATO, about the building of Europe and so on.

[10:20:10] So, for Marine Le Pen, it was bad news when she - and she looked - when she received the endorsement of Putin and Trump, she looked so childish, so un-mature in her stupid joy that it cannot help her leadership.

And these battles in Germany and in France, these electoral battles, will be also a lot about leadership.

I heard what you just said about Martin Schulz. One difference between Martin Schulz and other is the quality of his leadership. This mix of care of the nation and of Europe, there is, on top of that, a real great leadership.

Marine Le Pen lacks leadership. Marine Le Pen lacks love of France. This is a very important point. Marine Le Pen does not like France, hates France and this is rather well known now.

ZAKARIA: Zany and Jochen, very quickly, I'd love to have you weigh in on - post Brexit, with this next election, will it help Theresa May that she's seen as a staunch ally of Donald Trump or will it hurt her?

BEDDOES: I actually don't think that will play very large in the election in the UK. I think that broadly I agree that, in Europe, being seen as a friend of Donald Trump isn't terribly helpful.

But I don't think that will be nearly as important here as what she is trying to do, which is position herself as the person who can lead the negotiations, the person in whom the country can trust on Brexit and, at the same time, paint herself as someone who is competent and capable in contrast to the leader of the opposition, who is clearly useless.

And that's the sort of game she's going to play. And I'd be very surprised if Trump plays very highly either way.

ZAKARIA: Jochen, when Trump - when Merkel came to Washington, you said Germans had a very difficult time understanding Trumpish, the language in which he was both against NATO and for NATO, against tariffs and for tariffs. Has it been clarified at all? And is Merkel seen as having stood up to Donald Trump?

BITTNER: Well, I think the German government is still trying to learn Trumpish, as, I guess, most of the Western governments are, to get behind what Donald Trump is actually meaning when he says words.

So, the German government is trying to get in touch with people around him and actually try to make sense of his policies or to figure out if there are policies at all at the moment. And I think the best outcome would be, for the time being, that there are no translation mistakes. Being lost in translation with our most important ally would be disastrous.

So, to answer your question, no, we still don't understand Trumpish to the full.

ZAKARIA: I think - join the club. Thank you all very much. Fascinating conversation.

Next on GPS, why in the world did Donald Trump call to congratulate Turkey's president Erdogan on his recent reversal of democracy in that country, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:27:38] ZAKARIA: And now for our What in the World segment. Donald Trump made a very unusual call last week. He phoned Recep Tayyip Erdogan and congratulated him on winning a referendum to amend Turkey's constitution.

The results of that referendum represent the most significant reversal of democracy in decades. Erdogan now has broad unchecked powers and the authority to potentially remain in office until 2029.

Turkey was once a shining star among developing democracies. It is now leading the trend away from genuine liberty. A recent report from Freedom House says that authoritarian powers are gaining the upper hand across the globe.

The organization noted that Turkey, which had a freedom rating of 53 out of 100 in 2016, saw the biggest one-year drop of any country. Turkey now has a rating of 38, a decline of 15 points in just one year, and that was before this latest referendum.

Russia currently has a dismal freedom rating of 20, down two points from last year. Among the other countries on the list of the biggest declines from last year are Poland, Venezuela and Hungary.

The report goes on to say a democracy is more than just elections. True democracies include other things, a free press, independent courts and legal protections for minorities.

I wrote about this back in 1997 in an article describing the phenomenon I was then noticing and called it illiberal democracy. Alexis de Tocqueville warned about it in the 19th century calling it the tyranny of the majority.

Increasingly around the globe, in more fragile democracies, we see populist leaders winning elections, then manipulating the system to make it almost impossible for the opposition to challenge their rule.

This is what happened in Venezuela 20 years ago when the charismatic populist Hugo Chavez was elected president. At the time, Venezuela was a burgeoning democracy, but Chavez soon consolidated power and manipulated the electoral process to guarantee his own reelection and that of his handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Or look at Hungary where Prime Minister Viktor Orban came to power with an overwhelming majority in 2010, but he soon set out to completely overhaul his country's constitution, eliminating judicial checks on his own executive power.

[10:30:00] In recent months, he's passed a law to close a top American-funded university in Budapest. His actions have brought out the masses to protest.

Meanwhile, back in Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a clear sign that she is deeply concerned about the state of democracy in that country, sent a message to President Erdogan, calling on him to engage with the opposition.

So we are now in a world where the chancellor of Germany is holding fast to democratic values around the world, and in the Middle East in particular, while the president of the United States is calling to congratulate the leader on their destruction.

Next on "GPS," Luke Harding dug so hard into the Kremlin's alleged crimes that he was expelled from Russia. He'll join me to give his take on Russia's involvement in the Trump campaign, the American elections and Putin's money.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: My next guest was expelled from Russia in 2011 after four years of reporting there. The Kremlin says he had violated a number of rules concerning the work of foreign correspondents -- whatever that means. Luke Harding had been the Guardian's Moscow correspondent. He has said that, by the time he left, he felt like he could almost have written the KGB handbook. That's a very handy skill, at times like this, when Russian spies are still atop the news.

Harding has a new book out about the poisoning of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. The book is called "A Very Expensive Poison."

Luke Harding, pleasure to have you on.

First, the obvious question, why a very expensive poison?

This is the Russian spy who was in London and who most foreign governments believe was poisoned by the Kremlin while he was in a British hospital.

HARDING: Yeah. If you cast your mind back to 2006 of these famous images of Alexander Litvinenko lying in his hospital bed; his hair has fallen out; he's staring into the camera, and he'd been poisoned, he said, by Putin.

Now, of course, you know, Mr. Putin denied all this. We had a public inquiry in London which concluded that Putin had personally approved the operation to, kind of, kill him.

ZAKARIA: But why "very expensive?"

HARDING: Well, he was killed with radioactive polonium. It's not something you can buy in the chemist's shop. You need a nuclear reactor. And essentially it was a sort of state plot to kill him, involving radioactive material flown into London and then put in Litvinenko's, sort of, tea, actually, and then he drank it, meeting these two Russians in a London hotel, fell violently ill and died three weeks later, but accusing the Kremlin of his murder.

ZAKARIA: When you researched all this, you must have looked a great deal at the work that Russian intelligence agencies do in Europe, do outside of Russia, the way they infiltrate.

Given that background, what do you think of the concerns, the accusations about the way Russia tried to influence the American election and perhaps tried to penetrate the Trump campaign?

HARDING: I think they're highly plausible and also nothing new. I mean, what happened in the U.S. last year has been happening all across Europe. We've seen the German Bundestag parliaments hacked; we've seen attempts to influence the French election, which is upcoming, loans to Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate. There are allegations, unproven but nonetheless swirling around, about Brexit in the U.K.

And I think what we see is we see an attempt, rather a clever attempt on several different levels, using social media, using traditional espionage, using hacking, to, kind of, nudge things in Russia's favor. And that's precisely what happened, in my opinion, last year here.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that this strategy is one that -- I mean, it seems so successful because there is plausible deniability. It involves very soft power. Is this the way of the future for intelligence? HARDING: It is the way of the future. And this is, kind of -- you

know, what is the lesson of the hacking of last year?

Is it to stop? No, the lesson is to keep going and to use these tactics again, both in America next time around but also in Europe.

And I think what we see is a very clever, quite cynical, almost, kind of, nihilistic attempt to undermine the European Union, to do things which helps Russia, and also to, kind of, work with the far left and the far right to exploit, sort of, this populist mood, this anti- establishment mood, and to allow Russia's, sort of, sovereign purposes to, kind of, get through.

And, you know, Putin's a KGB guy. He learnt this stuff in Leningrad back in the 1970s and he's rolling it out for the 21st Century, very successfully.

ZAKARIA: You spent a lot of time digging around to figure out what Putin's net worth might be. Because you believe that at the heart of Putin's power -- and this is in the book -- it's about money. He -- they have been able to create this massive source of income revenue. And that's the slush fund that keeps the Kremlin power system going, right?

HARDING: Yeah. So I would say, in Russia now, there are two projects. There's the noisy public project, the nationalist, sort of, neo- Soviet, you might call it, project, which we see, kind of, in Ukraine and in Syria, where Putin wants Russia to be a superpower again, like it was in Soviet times, on a par with the United States. That's project one.

But there's also project two, which is a kind of private project, just among friends, which is to basically steal large amounts of money -- we're talking about billions and billions of dollars. And once you've stolen it, you have to do two things. One, you have to offshore it in banks in the West. And the other is you have to protect it from other people inside the elite who want to steal it from you. And, actually, in my view, the second project, the stealing project, is more important than the nationalist project.

ZAKARIA: Part of your reporting was you combed through the Panama Papers and you discovered that there was a Russian cellist, a friend of Putin's, who had, in the -- in Panama, an account, a bank account with $2 billion in it. And after your reporting, Putin was asked about it. And his response, to me, was staggering. What did he say?

HARDING: Well, he said that this $2 billion was used to buy musical instruments to import into -- into Russia. It's an astonishing story. This is called Sergei Roldugin. He is a cellist. And he also happens to be...

ZAKARIA: Clearly the world's most successful cellist.

(LAUGHTER)

HARDING: Well, except he told the New York Times that he was not a man of means; he didn't have much money. And we were part of the consortium that looks at this leaked data. And we found transaction after transaction going into secret offshore companies.

And I think the reason that this story is important is because, if you go Switzerland and say -- to Credit Suisse, say -- "Is your bank account in the name of Vladimir Putin?"

And they'll say, look, I'm terribly sorry; we've got nothing here for you." And the way that Putin's wealth is structured is through a series of proxies. And collectively these guys are worth -- I mean, we can only guess -- but $300 billion, $400 billion, $500 billion. And Putin is the supreme arbiter who can dispense this wealth or take away. He can -- he can use it to hack an election. He can use it to build a football stadium. He can use it to buy a yacht. But he's the person, almost like a kind of feudal lord or a czar, who gets to call it.

ZAKARIA: Luke, pleasure to have you on.

HARDING: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," what would happen if you examined the government like you might look at a business?

Does it meet its budget; does it spend efficiently? What does it do with its underperforming units? Billionaire Steve Ballmer has spent $10 million to put it all under the microscope. He will tell us what he's found out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Did you know that 11 percent of America's working-age population works for the government?

Federal, state and local governments combined employed more than 23 million people in 2014. And those governments spent $5.4 trillion. That's a 5, then a 4, then 11 zeros, for those of you following along.

My next guest is a billionaire. That's fewer zeros. And he wanted to spend some of that money examining the U.S. government like one examines a business. Steve Ballmer made billions for himself and for his company, Microsoft, by scrupulously looking at balance sheets, head counts and where the money went.

So what happens when you do the same to government?

Welcome, Steve.

BALLMER: Pleasure to be here, Fareed. Thanks.

ZAKARIA: The -- let's start with that first statistic, the number of people who work for the government. Did that surprise you? And do you think it's too high?

BALLMER: Well, it did surprise me. Now, it's an amalgamation of a lot of things, some of which people think about government formally, but it also includes teachers, who obviously work for government. It includes people who work at hospitals that are operated by the government.

When you look at it in aggregate, you wind up saying there's a lot of good things that come from that group of people. And, you know, people can have their own judgments as to whether some of these things should be done by government or done privately. But I was impressed that such a low percentage of people were doing the work that typically people call bureaucrats, if you will. And so I -- I noted that with great interest.

ZAKARIA: Expand on that. That's a very interesting point, you know, that the part that people think -- these kind of vast, faceless bureaucrats sitting in offices, you know, passing memos -- there's not a lot of people doing that. There's a lot of, as you say, people working in hospitals, nurses, park rangers, that kind of thing, right?

BALLMER: Exactly right. And, you know, if you look at the top -- I don't know -- eight or nine areas that involve government workers, that's what you're going to find. You're going to find police; you're going to find firemen; you're going to find people who work in correctional facilities, in hospitals, in government businesses like water and sewer and the like, obviously teachers and professors and the people who work in schools and universities, the military -- people who clearly don't look anything like this popular conception of the bureaucrat.

ZAKARIA: When you look at health care, the data you provide to me tells a kind of sad story about American health care. And it goes back, really, decades. If you look at -- you know, I look at three or four decades of the numbers and basically the story is costs have gone up, way up. Outcomes, health care outcomes, really haven't improved very much. And you don't provide this data, but you know, if you look at it compared to other countries, it's striking how poor U.S. outcomes are, particularly compared with the soaring costs.

Again, what do you see in that data?

BALLMER: Well, I think there's a couple things I'll note what we should do, maybe, somewhat different. I think it is interesting that, over the period of time, which I think goes back 2000, 2005, that the government has mentioned it, we looked at the average age of death, as opposed to the average life expectancy.

In my opinion, advances in health care and increased health care spending in the last 15 years should better be reflected in the average age at which people die, frankly, than almost anything. And it's moved up, but it's moved up maybe .8 years.

If you look at the public health statistics, the percentage of people with diabetes, depression and other, you know, sort of public health characteristics, those numbers, other than smoking, have not come down. And at least as I look at the numbers, those public health statistics, to me, seem very material and very interesting as it relates to health care in this country.

Another sad statistic -- in some ways the one that should worry us all the most -- is the lack of economic and social mobility. You have this interesting block chart which shows essentially what is the chance of a child exceeding the income of the family he grew up in, the parents that he was born to. And it looks much worse today than it did 30 years ago. And it doesn't look very good.

That seems to me, in some ways, the -- you know, the meta-problem, which is the sense that the American dream that your children will do better than you is -- is under greater stress.

BALLMER: Well, the American dream is interesting. What is the American dream? Is the American dream the dream that kids can advance, sort of, statistically versus their parents economically?

That might be the dream. And the dream might be can people live better than their parents, which is slightly different.

And to me, the thing that's striking in the data is there are groups of people who have a very low probability of moving up the economic ladder. In the documents we show that, for white kids, it's about 27 percent chance that, if your parents are in the bottom 20 percent, you wind up in the bottom 20 percent. Perfect, of course, would be 20 percent -- so 27 percent to 20 percent. For African-American kids, that number would be 50 percent chance of staying in the bottom 20 percent, obviously a much more, sort of, constrained set of economic mobility criteria for African-American kids versus white kids.

ZAKARIA: When you look at all this data, what I was wondering -- I was -- constantly thought about the fact that I would love to see comparisons to other countries. So, for instance, on this economic mobility data, European countries, particularly northern European, do much better. Canada does better. Have you thought about maybe providing international comparisons so that people can understand where -- where America stacks up?

BALLMER: Well, I think it would be a great thing to do, but it would start with trying to prepare something equivalent to USAFacts for Canada or the U.K. or France. There's a lot of things that would need to be in place for us to do an equivalent piece of work.

Would I like to do that? Yes. Is that probably our very next step? Maybe not. But we've had some approaches from at least people in Canada to say is there are a way to do equivalent at work? I think it would be cool as heck if we can find somebody to partner up with in a couple of countries. We're not up to taking on that work ourselves right now. There's still a lot to be done in the United States.

ZAKARIA: Fascinating stuff, a data-driven view of politics. Thank you, Steve Ballmer.

BALLMER: Thanks, Fareed. My pleasure.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," many parts of the world are on the march, moving en masse from the countryside to cities. We have the satellite pictures to prove it. We'll show you one shining example in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: And now for a bit of good news. The IMF predicts NEVILLE: at global economic growth will accelerate slightly faster than previously expected. The organization is now predicting 3.5 percent global growth for 2017.

And that brings me to my question of the week. What percentage of global growth do emerging market and developing countries account for?

Is it greater than 10 percent, or 25 percent, or 50 percent, or 75 percent?

Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

This week's book of the week is Yuval Noah Harari's "Homo Deus." In his previous book, "Sapiens," Harari provided a sweeping history of human life on the planet. You may remember Barack Obama recommended that book on this show. In this new book, Harari picks up the story at the present, describing how artificial intelligence and technology more broadly are changing what it actually means to be human. This is one of those books that is sure to make you think and discuss and argue.

And now for the last look. Take a look at this satellite image of India taken in 2012. Now look at this 2016 image, just four years later, recently released by NASA. Notice the difference. India is brighter. The images show the vast growth of Indian cities in just a short time.

The World Bank says a third of India's population, approximately 430 million people, live in cities. And they are on an amazing growth trajectory. Eight of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the Asia Pacific region from 2016 to 2030 will be Indian, according to an Oxford Economics Global City study. And by 2050 Indian cities are projected to be home to at least another 300 million people.

That will be like adding the population of the United States to India's cities. India's government has pledged to build 100 new cities before that time, the U.N. points out.

Now, let's go back to the recent satellite image of India. The cities light up. But see all that darkness? Roughly 300 million people in India still do not have access to electricity. And for the electricity that is flowing, much of it today comes from coal-fired power plants. But the Indian government predicts that more than half of its electricity will come from non-fossil fuel sources in the next decade, The Guardian points out. Let us hope they are right.

The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question is D. According to the IMF's most recent World Economic Outlook report, emerging market and developing economies account for more than 75 percent of global growth in output and consumption. That is nearly double the share 20 years ago. India is expected to be the fastest-growing major economy this year, expanding by more than 7 percent.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.